There are still likely several fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers in addition to media members who remain puzzled as to why the team failed to select an inside linebacker at any point during the 2018 NFL Draft. That’s not overly surprising being as the position was easily regarded as perhaps the team’s biggest need ahead of the draft due to the fact that the career of current inside linebacker Ryan Shazier is currently on hold due to the serious spinal injury he suffered last season. Because of the Steelers failing to draft an inside linebacker this year, general manager Kevin Colbert is still being asked questions about the team’s decision not to.
On Monday, Colbert was a guest on SiriusXM NFL Radio and he was asked by Ross Tucker if the organization just didn’t see any inside linebackers during the draft that they liked, or if they just have a lot of confidence that free agent addition Jon Bostic and former seventh-round draft pick Tyler Matakevich can combine and pick up the slack created by the loss of Shazier.
“I think It’s really a combination of both,” Colbert said. “Unfortunately, we lost a great player this season and he won’t play in 2018 – he knows that, we know that – in Ryan Shazier. So, it did leave a huge hole and you know, when it happened last year, unfortunately Tyler Matakevich got hurt in the same quarter that Ryan did and you know, our top backup was now could only play special teams from that point on because he had a shoulder that required surgery immediately after the season. So, going into unrestricted free agency, Jon Bostic was someone that we were happy to add into the mix. He started 14 games for the Colts last year and we had high grades on Jon when he was coming out.
Colbert continued on with his praise of Bostic and Matakevich.
“He [Bostic] had some injuries that hindered his progress in his first couple of years, but he got himself stabilized last year and did a nice job we thought for the Colts,” Colbert said. “So, you add him in the mix, you get Tyler in the mix, we think we have some candidates.”
After praising both Bostic and Matakevich, Colbert then proceeded to talk about what transpired during the 2018 NFL Draft and how the team was poised to select an inside linebacker had one fallen to them that they liked.
“But again, and you get into the draft and if there’s an inside linebacker that’s the best player available at that point, you take him,” Colbert said. “Unfortunately, it didn’t match up this year and we knew that there was only a certain number and we may or may not be able to get those guys. And the rest of the guys at the inside linebacker position, we think there’s a whole group that do the types of things we talked about earlier that maybe they’re better on first and second down. Maybe they’re better on third and fourth down as cover guys and special teamers. So, we knew that group was going to be a lot of guys, but a lot of guys that do a couple of things well. There was only a few that we thought were real four-down-type players and when we were picking, those types of guys weren’t available to us.”
It’s been reported since the draft ended that the Steelers had had their sights set on former Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans and that Colbert had even attempted to trade up in the first-round to get him. The Tennessee Titans beat the Steelers to Evans, however, thanks to them moving up from the 25th overall spot to the 22nd overall spot via a trade with the Baltimore Ravens. Evans was perceived ahead of the draft as being one of the four linebackers the Steelers would be interested in drafting in the first-round and after he and the other three had been chosen, Colbert and company decided to select former Virginia Tech safety Terrell Edmunds with their 28th overall selection.
“And again, we were happy with who was available when we did take him,” Colbert said.